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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

09 May '12

Leaders who need to be liked by those they lead

The greater our need to be liked by others the less personal freedom we have to be ourselves, follow God's leading and be self defining about what is important us us. It is a trap that keeps us from being us and from leading well! 


I have no desire to be disliked. In fact, I believe that leaders who lead well will be respected and liked by most, probably not by all. Leading well, treating people well and creating an environment for staff to flourish all contributes to respect for a leader. 


Many leaders, however, are not after respect but want to be loved and liked by those they lead. Wanting to be liked is a symptom of a lack of self worth - needing therefore to get our worth from the love of others. But for a leader, it is a trap because our desire to be liked can get in the way of our leadership.


Leaders who desire to be liked often are not able or willing to push into missional issues with their staff where results are needed but not forthcoming. It is a choice to keep a perceived friendship intact by not pressing on issues that might be considered contentious. In reality, the need to be liked is holding the leader hostage from addressing issues that need to be addressed. Ironically, they lose respect from their staff  when this happens.


Leaders who desire to be liked also become hostage to the expectations of others. Self definition - the ability to state one's position, even if it is not popular is a key leadership trait. But if my desire to be liked is strong, it will be difficult for me to self define in areas where that might not be liked. I am therefore hampered from making directional calls that might "compromise" my perceived friendship with those I lead. In doing so, I actually hurt the organization I lead.


Leaders who desire to be "one of the boys or girls" do so at the risk of their leadership because one cannot be best friends with all the staff and lead well. Once a leader becomes one of the boys or girls they are identifying with their team rather than with the organizational leadership role they carry.


Here is an interesting thought. Most staff do not have a need to be best friends with their leader. They want a collegial atmosphere where issues can be discussed and decided and they want to be respected. In turn they want to respect their leader but do not have an expectation of being best friends with their leader. It is the leader's insecurities that drive the need to be liked, not the staff.


Healthy leaders are highly collegial but they keep an appropriate social distance from the staff they lead so that they are able to see beyond the "friendships" and keep the missional agenda clear. It is in leading well that they earn the respect and appreciation of they staff even if they are not the staff's best friends.


See also:
Leaders and those they lead
Transitioning staff from family to team